Real estate agents are often the ones recommending home inspectors to their clients, and most home inspection business comes from REALTOR® referrals. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what real estate agents look for in a home inspector and what professional traits they prefer.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the top qualities real estate agents value in a home inspector, how real estate agents come into play with home inspections, and how to use marketing techniques to start building relationships with REALTORS®.
What do real estate agents want from a home inspector?
Since a real estate agent’s end goal is to get their client into a new home and cash that commission check, you might assume they’d want an inspector that would move the real estate transaction along by turning a blind eye to issues with the property.
But that’s not true — at least with good agents.
In reality, a quality buyer’s agent wants their client to buy a home they love. After all, a satisfied client will be a powerful reference for the future, while clients who regret their purchase will sour the agent’s reputation.
Because of their desire for a satisfied client, real estate agents want home inspectors who can do their job well.
Let’s take a look at the kinds of things agents look for in a home inspector, both professionally and personally.
What professional qualities are real estate agents looking for in a home inspector?
REALTORS® know that an inspector who displays professionalism will make both the inspector and the REALTOR® look good. Because of this reality, they want to work with inspectors who are well-trained, professional, and honest.
Home buyers (especially first-time buyers) tend to place a great deal of trust in the home inspection report to reveal whether the home is a solid purchase. A home inspector’s perspective, therefore, needs to be grounded in reality. An inspector should be able to communicate the home’s facts without giving an exaggerated idea of the defects compared to other homes.
Some home inspectors out there take common issues and blow them out of proportion, causing the home buyers to panic about minor problems. Real estate agents appreciate inspectors who know how to provide thorough, accurate reports and communicate with a perspective that will help the buyer feel confident in their choice (unless the house is a lemon, of course).
Real estate agents know that as an inspector, you should know when a problem is minor or major, and when another professional should be called in. They can quickly become frustrated with inspectors who won’t give a professional opinion on anything.
Good inspectors will:
- Be good communicators. They answer calls and emails, set auto-replies for when they’re out of the office, and may even hire an answering service.
- Perform a thorough inspection.
- Deliver an HTML inspection report rather than an illegible, handwritten one. It should be visual, easy to navigate, and easy to read and navigate on a mobile device.
- Deliver the home inspection report promptly.
- Be consistent in what they say during the inspection and what they list in their report.
- Communicate the inspection results to help the buyer understand what a minor problem is and what is a major one.
What personal qualities are real estate agents looking for in a home inspector?
Agents look for an inspector who has the personal qualities that boost both their reputation and yours. They appreciate inspectors who don’t just do their jobs silently but will also display a personal touch.
Because of the nature of the job, home inspectors tend to be the analytical type. They may not be effusive or talkative by nature, but that’s an important part of the job. Real estate agents appreciate the inspectors who behave as if they take pride in serving the customer.
Do you enjoy educating your customers about the home inspection process? Agents will appreciate your efforts to inform your customers, even if you’re not a natural people person. You don’t have to be bubbly or overly talkative; simply demonstrate that you remember that the client is there, and take the time to loop them in on the process.
Proactively ask the buyers if they have questions throughout the inspection and inform them of what you’d want to know if you were in their shoes. Ensure they understand the house’s major systems, including the water heater, electrical system, and the HVAC system.
Similarly, continue to show your personal touch with a follow-up contact after the inspection is over. Personalized service is essential to a satisfied customer, and it’ll go a long way in gratifying the real estate agent. Whether it be an email or phone call, let them know you appreciate their business and that you’re available if they have any questions.
Real estate agents appreciate how you present yourself personally. In your business, make sure to practice:
- Over-communication. The time, date, and location of a scheduled appointment should be clear to everyone involved. It’s a good idea to send confirmation emails through your home inspection software.
- Punctuality. Aim to arrive at each inspection at least ten minutes early — this appears professional and gives you a chance to get a look at the house with no distractions.
- Friendliness. When the buyer’s agent and the buyer arrive at the appointment, approach them. There’s no need to be cheerier than your natural personality dictates, but show a social initiative that demonstrates that you want to be there to help your customers get the information they need about the property.
Are home inspectors who are certified in additional inspection services more likely to be hired?
Additional certifications and memberships are usually a good idea — if you’ve got the time and skills to do so.
Obtaining certifications in additional specializations is a surefire way to impress an agent. Find out the common issues in your area (like mold or termites) and become certified in those specialties. Agents who see that you’re competent in those specific areas will be more likely to go with you, since you’ll be able to provide a more complete and thorough inspection of the property.
And while it’s not the only thing real estate agents look for, membership in an association for home inspectors is considered a plus. If you’re not already a member, consider joining a respected association like the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
To become a certified inspector with InterNACHI, you’ll need to submit four simulated inspection reports and pass the organization’s Online Inspector Examination. To become certified with ASHI, you must pass the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE) and prove that you’ve completed at least 250 paid home inspections.
The real estate agent’s role in a home inspection
Since the home inspection is one of the essential steps in a real estate transaction, the agent should attend whenever possible. REALTORS® are advocates for their clients, so they should represent the client in the best capacity they can.
Some agents choose to shadow the inspector and follow along with everything the inspector does. Other agents prefer to be present in the background to answer their clients’ questions when needed.
Clients are often first-time home buyers who don’t know much about home inspections or the real estate process in general. REALTORS® are important intermediaries to help explain the process.
Real estate agents who were present to hear the results of the inspection in real-time are also better able to negotiate the property’s price. An excellent real estate agent knows they’ll learn more from listening to the inspection findings than by only reviewing the home inspection report.
While agents should be present for an inspection, they should never point out flaws in the home. That job should be left to the professional home inspector, who is the specialist. Once real estate agents begin pointing out structural issues with the house, they open themselves up to liability.
How can real estate agents best utilize home inspection software?
The best home inspection software offers online delivery of the report as well as PDF versions. Real estate agents find it useful to view the interactive report, including videos and annotated photos.
HomeGauge software offers the Create Request List™ (CRL™), which allows real estate agents to log in and view issues the inspector found, then sort them into project files or a repair amendment for the buyer to use in negotiation. They can scroll through the items of concern, then decide whether to “accept item as-is” or “add to list” to request that the seller fix the issue, replace the defective item, or compensate for the cost in the final price of the home. Agents and buyers are able to work on the CRL™ collaboratively.
Getting your home inspection business noticed by agents
Professional relationships with real estate agents are vital for home inspectors. Most buyers and sellers take their agents’ advice when choosing an inspector. According to an ASHI study, 69% of home buyers in the U.S. choose a home inspector based on their real estate agent’s recommendation.
While it would be nice to have a magic solution, there’s no foolproof way to quickly grow your network. The best way to connect with real estate agents as a professional inspector is to demonstrate the fundamental principles of professionalism and treat the clients you do have like gold.
That being said, there are a few tried and true behaviors that can help home inspectors find success at marketing their services to real estate agents. Let’s take a look at four of them.
1. Nail the first impression
First of all, make sure you’re reaching out to all the agents in your community that you can.
Many home inspectors use freebies as part of their strategy, like bringing donuts or jars of candy to various real estate agencies in the area.
But if you’re looking for maximum results, don’t stop there! Remember to follow up.
It’s all well and good to put a sticker with your business logo on the lid of the donut box. But getting your logo under the eye of real estate agents once — as they flip open the box lid to their real target, the donut — is not enough to get yourself lodged in their memory.
Make sure to follow your intended network on social media and interact tastefully with their posts. You’d be surprised how many real estate agents are active on social platforms — even older agents. They understand that social media is an excellent place to communicate with each other and their potential clients.
Many home inspectors also see results from sending a letter of introduction (LOI) via email or snail mail. If you do it right, this small gesture of outreach can do wonders for your professional impressions and help you stick in the minds of your intended network.
Here are a few tips to get you started on your LOI:
- Make sure it’s personalized to the agent and their agency. Check out their website and marketing materials to find a few memorable details about them that you can include in your personalized introductory contact.
- Focus on your unique selling proposition (USP). The focal point of your LOI needs to be the value you can provide to the agent and their clients. Do you have specialized skills? Excellent communication? User-friendly and state-of-the-art software? Mention what makes you stand out and how that will help them (and their clients).
And finally, you can make an excellent impression by cold calling real estate agencies or individual agents to introduce yourself and ask them about their home inspection needs. Email and social media interactions are valuable, but it’s hard to beat the power of a good old-fashioned phone call.
2. Build relationships with real estate brokerages
Once you’ve made an initial connection, try setting up a brief, in-person presentation at the brokerage’s office meeting. You could ask to sponsor the meeting by providing refreshments in exchange for giving a short presentation.
If you do land an office meeting, remember to make your presentation about something valuable to them. Don’t just give a sales pitch about yourself. Describe how your service is unique or list the special deals you’re offering at the moment. Educate the real estate agents with what they — and their clients, the home buyers — need to know.
Focus on clarifying the home inspection process with topics like:
- How a home inspection works
- Home inspection basics
- Particular areas of concern in your city/state
- Pest, mold, radon, and other specialized inspection services
3. Network with real estate agents at trade shows
Your presence at trade shows may not feel like it’s driving business for you, but remember that marketing is a long game. You’re there to get yourself seen and to make connections with other professionals in the field.
Sponsor a table at a trade show and have materials with your logo on them. Have something on the table that will draw the agents in; it can be as simple as candy or as complex as a printable InterNACHI coloring book with a set of crayons for real estate agents to hand out to their clients’ children.
Make sure to offer a giveaway that incentivizes agents to leave their business cards, like a gift basket or a gift card to a nice restaurant in town.
After the event, send a note to every agent who left a card, thanking them for visiting your table and offering a coupon for their next home inspection. Connect with them on social media, tag them in photos from the event (if applicable), and like their pages. As always, don’t overdo it on social media; a little goes a long way.
By attending trade shows, you’re sowing the seeds and getting your brand out there in subtle ways — and you’ll reap the benefits of that work in the future.
4. Optimize your marketing
Finally, one of the best ways to grow your home inspection business is to nail your digital marketing. There are many ways to market your business online, including writing a blog, buying ads, creating video tutorials on YouTube, and contributing to industry-specific forums.
And, of course, don’t forget to optimize your business website. After all, once you start making connections with REALTORS®, they’ll want to look you up online.
Many home inspectors assume having a website is good enough. But unless your site is up to Google’s standards, it will likely get buried under hundreds of other search results that rank higher in Google’s algorithm. Home inspectors can utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for their website by learning how to appear in a Google search.
Make sure that you:
- Research keywords for your target audience
- Weave those keywords into your site pages
- Keep your website up-to-date
- Verify your inspection company on Google Business
- Make your site mobile-friendly for easy viewing on phone and tablet
- Fix any spammy or invalid links on your site
- Connect your social media accounts (such as Facebook and LinkedIn) to your site
If thinking about digital marketing makes your head spin, HomeGauge offers the SEO Builder program specifically designed for home inspector websites that takes the guesswork out of optimizing your website.
As a home inspector, you know all about your area of expertise. You can spot a structural issue from a mile away, and you know a home’s internal systems like the back of your hand.
But that’s not all that’s involved in building a successful home inspection business. No one is an island, and just as with all aspects of life, you can’t build a thriving business on your own.
You need to develop professional relationships with others in your industry, especially with those who interact the most with your potential clients: real estate agents.
Not to worry, though.
It’s true that marketing your home inspection business requires savvy, networking, and stepping outside your comfort zone. But landing referrals from (and long-term working relationships with) real estate agents is done mostly by doing what you always do: delivering high-quality work with professionalism and integrity.